Tuesday, July 26

Rakhis with plastic shopping bags DIY

It's a while before Rakshabandhan arrives. A refreshing trend over the past few years is, of women tying rakhi to their sisters-in-law, and sometimes sisters tying rakhi to each other's hands. The essence of this festival embraced by cultures across, is protection and prayer for the other's well-being. So why not?

When we were children, we would make our own rakhis, and embellish them with sequins we popularly called `chamkis'. A teacher at our school would so far as go shopping for embellishments and silk threads, and she would get a bunch of students to make and sell rakhis. It was fascinating to see the amount of work go into brushing those thread bunches with toothbrushes, embellishing them, and packing them over cardboards of attractive colours.

I tried out making rakhis this year, with plastic shopping bags that come when you buy clothes. You need to choose bags that are thick, but flexible enough to bend easy. The traditionalist in me craves for original organic cotton threads of ancient times. But a piece that goes toward not trashing plastic is any day a welcome gesture when blended into a festival like Rakshabandhan. You can make these right away in case you must send the gestures of love for your siblings, by post.

What you need:

-- Plastic shopping bags in different colours

-- a slightly thick needle that pokes easy through the plastic, and thread

-- a pair of scissors - metal or plastic cutting

-- embellishments - things like cloth flowers, sequins, colour paper, stickers, etc

-- satin ribbon

-- super glue (if you want rakhis that do not wash off during bath) or multi-surface craft glue, otherwise

Start, by cutting off the handles end of the bag. And fold-roll the bag into strips about two inches wide. Some part of the sheet me remain. You may cut it.

Using the plastic cutting scissors, shear through the folded creases to cut strips from this.

Take about four strips. And fold the bunch into half.

Cut thin strips from the edges towards the centre, leaving enough space in the middle to run a needle and thread through.

Do this on both the edges.

Knot the end of some thread into a needle, and run it through the strip, You need to use the running stitch, giving a gap of about half an inch between each poke through.

Push the folds that form towards the knotted end, and it will form an uneven disc shape. You can add some cut strips according to the thickness you want for the main diskette.

Insert the needle back into the centre area, to stitch the disc up so it holds the layers together. This part was difficult. You will need a needle that passes through these several folds of plastic sheet with ease, and at the same time it cannot hurt your fingers because of the difficulty.

I had a ready strip of gift wrap tissue paper or kite paper that I had cut into strips, for making garlands. It came in handy for this project.

You can run a knot the layers all up with help of a seed bead (used for jewellery).

I used the same method to make two more such discs and used other embellishments. I stitched up a store-bought cloth flower to the disc center.

For another piece, it was about adding a bead in its center to match the colour of its printed side. In this matter, I also added beads of a different shape to embellish the third piece, using glue.

The next step, is to fix either a satin ribbon or thread to the rear of these discs.

I preferred to stitch the ribbon to the rear rather than glue it.

Do these for all discs. And your rakhis are ready. You can try such rakhis with wrapping tissue papers, colour papers, used flower shaped stickers and the likes. Avoid buying a dress in the hope of getting a bag. Make this with stuff around home instead.

Pictures courtesy: Radhika M B

For permissions to re-use, write to radicreative@gmail.com

Monday, July 18

Bottle caps for a painting palette DIY

Ever tried to pacify a toddler with toys galore? Or paper and paints if the child is creative? Chances are that you ended up paying through your nose to keep the little one engaged for all of half an hour.

It's amazing how you can reinvent household discard-ables to keep your little one occupied before you go anywhere near the trash can.

Fingerpaints, watercolours and the likes are a rage with kids these days. How they love to smudge themselves with colours! As a child, I had such wishes too, that I get a room full of paper and run with paint on my feet, and hands. No reprimanding teachers, no worry about spoiling my uniform.

Teaching the child to stick to pouring paint into a palette is a big task. And you can make your own palette! Show your kid some variety. Use household plastic lids. You don't need scissors. You do not need needles. Nothing.

Just some multi-surface glue or super adhesive, and maybe some sandpaper, besides of course the lids of bottle caps of different sizes.

I used the lid of a box that usually contains dosa batter for this activity. Its diameter is approximately six inches. You can find such plastic boxes in stores that sell packaged curd, batter or other foods.

Scout around home for smaller size lids of various bottles. Wash them all thorough, and get to work.

You need:

- a large lid for the base of the palette

- glue (multi-surface) or super glue

- smaller size bottle caps of an inch or less in diameter

- sanding paper (optional)

- tissue paper (just in case you spill glue)

If you are using multi-surface glue, sand the upper surface of the caps so that the glue sticks. If you use super glue you do not need to do it. Arrange the caps on the large lid to get an idea of, how many may fit on it.

Glue on.

And stick the cap on to the large lid.

Continue this with the other caps.

When you stick, chances are that the glue will overflow. Do not fret.

The palette is ready, not to use, but to dry. My piece took a whole day to set in and dry. You may get luckier. Buoyed by the results on this, I tried this with the measuring caps of cough syrup bottles over one half of a styrofoam or thermocol clamshell container.

Instead of multi-surface glue, I used super glue.

\And let it dry.

It was tricky, thanks to the ridges on the container's base, but I pressed the surfaces hard.

Meanwhile, the former piece dried.

It is ideal for temporary use. And enough to catch a kid's attention for a while.

Pictures courtesy: Radhika M B

For permissions ot reuse, write to: radicreative@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 12

Bottle cap 3-D card or kids' art piece

If your kid has itchy fingers, bottle caps from plastic bottles, cans and jugs are must-have collectibles. Keep a stash ready and you are good to go on a lazy afternoon.

From recycled jewelry to toys, they can be used for a variety of items to make.

Here is an example of a 3-D card or an art piece you can get your child to make, and put up on the fridge or a desktop.

Keep bottle caps of at least one and half inches width ready.

You will need

-- Cardstock\

-- some colour paper, ideally construction paper

-- Washi tape stock

-- paint pens

-- sticker bindis

-- a pair of scissors

-- craft glue

Your bottle caps need to be washed and dried before you start. Gauge the colour of your cap, and pick up contrasting and accented colours for cardstock and colour paper. I used yellow polka-dot Washi tape to go with my blue bottle cap.

And cut a small triangle on its edge to make the nose of an owl on this bottle cap. After this, all I needed was two sticker bindis of the same dark colour for the owl eyes.

The next step, was to add a pair of wings to this, and maybe a dash of paint to mark its eyes more.

You can glue this over a greeting card or colour paper. You can also make a bird 3-D card, rather get your child to make it.

Cut a triangle from the red construction paper, of roughly half an inch on the longer sides.

Glue a pair of blue buttons and this beak on to the bottle cap using craft glue. You can optionally add sticker bindis on these buttons for effect.

This is nearly ready. Next step, is to pull out a contrasting piece of card stock from your stash.

And glue the cap on to it. But before that, keep a pair of one inch triangles ready from the red paper. Glue these triangles a little under the cap. For the eyes, you can add a dot with dark coloured paint pen over the sticker bindis, legs, and maybe a strand of hair or two over the bird's head. Write your favourite words.

This you can give as a quickie gift for birthdays of your little one's friends, or stick or pin on a desktop wall.

Think of more crafts with the plastic pieces unfortunately not good for environment.

Pics by : Radhika M B

For permissions, write to radicreative@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 5

Simple spinning top with bottle caps DIY

One of the childhood games I have loved is the spinning top, something boys in our neighbourhoods rollicked in and we girls yearned to master. It is so universal that babies can watch with their mouths open when you as much as spin a lid.

It's why used plastic bottle caps that often cannot be recycled by the recycling companies, can find a new life as spinning tops.

The only other major material you will need, is the toothpick. You can never have enough of them around.

Use these spinning tops while running your head over some corporate hassle, or get your child to make it and play. It's a tiny toy for children and adults alike.

I made a set of three with the bottle caps I have had lying around home.

Here, are some tips through the project that takes barely a few minutes.

Materials you need:

-- of course the plastic bottle caps - ideally small in diameter for a good spin

-- toothpicks of good quality

-- a long needle

-- nail cutter (if your bottle cap has protrusions)

-- crimp tools or nail cuticle pushers, or thicker tapestry needle

(I used a tiny nose-plier that is part of my jewellery tools stash)

-- optional - paint pens to decorate

-- craft glue - optional - if you want to embellish with sequins or stickers that is

The bottle caps need a thorough wash and dry before you start off with anything.

With an orange juice bottle cap, I found the center of the cap and used the long needle to poke it. An option they say, is to heat up the center of the cap. But it makes it too tricky because you never know the right amount of heat you need to poke a hole. It can simply melt it, and instead you may end up making a nozzle cap.

How quickly an easily you poke a hole depends on the thickness of the cap and the sharpness of the needle.

I started with an orange cap an it was a thick one, needing more push and some gentle taps with my nail clipper and plier.


Once the needle went in and I managed to pull it out through the other end, Here is where, my tiny nose plier came in handy.

I inserted the cone-nose of the plier to expand the hole a little. You need to be careful with this part. Push only as much as you need. Pick up a paint pen and draw in a design on the cap. 

Insert the toothpick. It is a bit of push and pull. Leave about an inch of the toothpick below the cap's lid.

I next tried this with a blue tetra-pack drink pack's lid. Barely an inch and a half in diameter, it was the most available colour. 

This was fairly easy to poke the hole into.

I used the nail cuticle pusher tool that has a pointed end similar to toothpicks, to widen the hole a little.

The next step was to paint it. I used a while paint pen.

This bead that you see in the picture did not really work for me.So i had to remove it. Leave the paint for five minutes so it dries well. The next step was to insert the toothpick. 

And another spinning top was ready. A tip you may find useful, is that I used a nail clippler to cut off the protective protrusions that came with the bottle cap. It took care to lift some weight off the cap and made the spin better.

I used a white cap too, that came with packaged drinking water bottle.

The spinning tops are ready to spin.

You can try this with caps of different colours. Make sure they have a smaller diameter if you plan to use toothpicks.

For bottle caps and lids slightly larger in size, you may need to explore other spinning sticks.

When you poke holes, keep your hands safe. Be careful when you do this project with children.

Pictures Courtesy: Radhika M B

For permissions to use, write to:radicreative@gmail.com